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Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

Researchers point to possible correlation between delinquencies and electricity use

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A new report indicates that there may be a correlation between how energy-efficient homeowners are and whether they will have trouble making their mortgage payments.

According to the report, "Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks," University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers say that there appear to be some linkages between the way in which homeowners use their electricity and spending as it pertains to their home loans. Using property information and analytics firm CoreLogic as a database, the study's analysts examined 71,000 home loans from nearly 40 states. They also limited the mortgages they looked at to those that were purchased between 2002 and 2012.

They discovered that among the households that used Energy Star utilities, which are known for requiring less power, these homeowners were 33 percent less likely to default on a loan compared to individuals who weren't as energy-efficient with their electricity usage.

Less expensive electric bills brings more money for mortgage payments
Cliff Majersik, executive director for the nonprofit that funded that study, noted that when one stops to think about it, the results of the study aren't altogether surprising.

"It stands to reason that energy-efficient homes should have a lower default rate, because the owners of these homes save money on their utility bills, and they can put that money toward their mortgage payments," said Majersik. "We long believed this to be the case, and now this study proves it."

He added that this report could be used by lenders to help them better assess their level of risk when going through the approval process with prospective mortgage borrowers.

Becoming more earth and environment-centric is something more people are making a priority in their lives, attempting to reduce their carbon footprint through various adjustments to their lifestyles. Energy Star provides individuals looking to go green with some home inspection tips for how they can perform their own energy audit.

An energy audit is basically an assessment of how electricity is being used in a home. Homeowners are encouraged to hold on to their electricity bills, as reviewing these documents can give them an idea of the months in which they're using more power than others.

To get the most accurate audit possible, homeowners may want to consider consulting with a professional, who has the background and skills that are needed to determine how efficiently power is being used in a residence.